The New York Giants just upgraded their cornerback position, or so it appears.
While Big Blue has yet to come out and publically release a statement, their official website appears to have just given away some pretty drastic news regarding a much-awaited position change.
Julian Love’s days of being a safety appear all but over. One of the Giants’ most promising young defenders, Love is now listed as a cornerback on Giants.com. The perceived move returns the former Notre Dame standout back to his roots and most natural position.
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Why is Love Switching Positions?
It’s not like the Love experiment at safety was a failed venture. In fact, it was quite promising.
Love started the final five games of 2019 as the Giants’ starting safety in place of an injured Jabrill Peppers, and he impressed. On the season, he compiled a grand total of 37 tackles on an impressive 92% tackle success rate along with five TFL.
He also netted three pass breakups and one interception during his inaugural pro season. His on-field performance was good enough to earn him a place on Pro Football Focus’ Top 50 NFL Rookies list, ranking 13th-overall.
Many will likely draw a correlation between Love’s projected position change and DeAndre Baker’s legal issues. While that may hold some weight, this is a switch that has likely been on the Giants’ minds well before Baker’s situation.
No one expected Xavier McKinney to fall to the Giants atop round-2 of last month’s NFL Draft, yet he did. In return, Big Blue quickly found themselves with an abundance of riches at the safety position.
Moving Love to cornerback is simply the best and easiest way to get their best defensive backs all on the field at once.
Love Has the Traits to be a Lockdown CB
Upon forgoing his senior season at Notre Dame, Love was perceived by many as a potential 1st-to-2nd-round lock. Love was dominant over his three-year run in South Bend, flashing lockdown cornerback traits for the Fighting Irish.
Scouts and NFL teams ultimately soured on Love a bit during the draft process due to his lack of size and high-end speed, allowing him to fall to the 4th-round.
However, Love’s ability to shut down opposing pass-catchers carried over to the pros, especially when covering the likes of tight ends, slot receivers and running backs. According to PFF, Love allowed a meager 19 yards on 80 coverage snaps while lined up in the box during his rookie season, finishing 2019 as the ninth-best graded player from that alignment.
Love is expected to play predominantly in the slot this coming season, which would allow him to face off against similar skillsets that he saw and blanketed during his time as a safety.
With that said, don’t bet against Love locking down the starting gig opposite big-ticket free-agent signee James Bradberry. Depending on what happens with DeAndre Baker, New York may be pressed into replacing their 2019 1st-round pick along their starting defensive unit.
Will Love Start on the Outside?
Bigger bodied corners such as Sam Beal and Corey Ballentine would seem like the obvious choices, as they have more of the build you’d expect to operate on the boundary. Yet, while Love may lack prototypical size and high-end athletic traits, he may very well simply be the better football player.
NFL.com’s draft expert Lance Zierlein almost certainly signs off on Love’s return to cornerback. During the pre-draft process, Zierlein compared Love to the likes of Denver Broncos pro-bowler AJ Bouye, stating “pure and simple, Love is a cover guy who possesses the feet, hips, instincts and competitiveness you want in a corner.”
If Love turns out to be half the player that Bouye is, then the position change will most definitely be cast as a win for him and the Giants defense.